Ant-Man

After Marvel’s release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, you can forgive a lot of movie fans that looked at Ant-Man, the movie to kick off Phase Three, as a film that’s easily forgettable or one to be cautious about. Much in the same way as last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie turns out to be a surprisingly good one, with Marvel churning out yet another solid, action-packed movie.

You can forgive some fans misconceptions; a film that has been stuck in development for years, to then have its original director and writer walk away from it weeks before production. Not to mention the very idea of a movie about a man who can become the size of an ant making many simply go ‘huh?’

The charming story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief who after serving time in jail is simply seeking to become a decent guy to live up to his daughter Cassie’s vision of him, soon finds himself becoming a protégé of sorts to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) as they attempt to break into their own company in order to stop some of their technology getting into the hands of evil genius Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).

The script is very much structured to introduce filmgoers to this universe, but thanks to where it is placed in the Marvel Canon, it’s allowed to spread its wings, with namedrops of the Avengers, the base we saw at the end of Ultron, and the appearance of The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). This in turn, pushes the movie up so it doesn’t just feel like a Phase One movie. Rudd, Douglas and Lily have a great chemistry and on-screen presence together, but its Michael Peña’s Louis that steals the show; literally every scene he is in has audiences eating out the palm of his hand.

Whilst the character of Scott Lang doesn’t completely capture our hearts like Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians, it goes as far as it needs for the film to be a success. By the end of the film, moviegoers are looking for the next appearance of Ant-Man, and with the two credit scenes (stay right to the end folks), it very much looks like we won’t be waiting long.

A film that’s proof that you don’t need to be the biggest hero on the block to be a success, and also proof that whatever Marvel touches, will never let you down.

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14 Film to Look Out for in 2014

2014 is a bit of a sandwhich year for films, there are plenty of blockbusters but a lot of people are looking at 2015 as being a big year for film. That being said there’s still plenty to look forward to this year. So a bit delayed but here is my list of films to look out for in 2014! (Please note that I’m not counting films that have already come out in January and February)

I’ve added links to trailers for the films that already have them.

 

X Men: Days of Future Past

As soon as the entire cast of Days of Future Past appeared on the stage at Comic Con last year, the movie got kicked into high-gear. Reuniting the old cast of the X-Men franchise in the early 00’s with the cast of X-Men: First Class, its sure to make the dreams of geeks everywhere come true.

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

The First Avenger is back and firmly in the 21st century and writers have promised that after this movie finishes, the scene will be firmly set for Avengers 2. As well as Chris Evans putting on the suit again as Steve Rogers, Samuel l. Jackson is back as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow.

Maleficient

Delayed from last year, Angelina Jolie steps into the role of Sleeping Beauty’s villain to give another take on the classic fairytale. The first trailer has already hit, and it looks visually beautiful

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield puts on the red and blue suit once more to fight crime, and it looks like the stakes are even higher in this film as he faces off against Jamie Foxx’s villain Electro. It seems that by the end of this film though, Peter Parkers life won’t be the same as its being promised to set up the next film set for release in 2016. One of my most anticipated movies of this year – just looks insane

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s big gamble in its Phase 2 plan was bringing out this film as it’s certainly not a widely known for its characters. However its assembled a crack team of actors, led by Chris Pratt and the trailer has taken a risk in showing off it’s witty script.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The first part of the last book in the Hunger Games series comes to cinemas at the end of this year and its gaining more and more momentum, especially due to the recent success of Catching Fire. Filming continues back to back with Mockingjay Part 2, and you can expect the film to reach high levels of anticipation come

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

The final part of Hobbit trilogy and the prequels to Lord of the Rings; it’ll be a sad state of affairs to think we won’t be visiting Jackson’s Middle Earth again. As the last film ended on a cliff-hanger with Smaug flying off to wreak havoc, there’s no telling what Jackson has in store.

Divergent

The latest Young Adult novel series to do the rounds is the Divergent series by Veronica Roth; the film looks set to rival The Hunger Games franchise and if it is a success at the box office, you can bet a franchise will be made out of the book series.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Michael Bay returns to the directing chair of the Transformers franchise but assembles a brand new cast being led by Mark Wahlberg who’s promised a great film.

Vampire Academy

Another Young Adult book series that’s getting the movie treatment, this revolves around a young girl who is half human/half vampire charged with keeping the peace and helping to protect the Moroi from the more violent bloodthirsty vampires the Strigoi. This film already looks good, and is set to appease the Twilight fans most of all with its vampire sex appeal angle.

Godzilla

A Godzilla reboot? A few raised eyebrows were certainly the first reaction by many. But throw in names like Bryan Cranston and a trailer that looks brilliant and the confused eyebrows are turning into expressions of delight.

Jupiter Ascending

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in this sci-fi adventure from the men that brought us The Matrix trilogy. It does have similarties with that trilogy, but still holds its own, and set for a summer release, it looks set to be a box office success.

Intersellar

Christopher Nolan’s next film after finishing up on the Batman trilogy and he’s reuniting with Anne Hathaway and bringing Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain along. It’s so far shrouded in much mystery, but then that’s what fans expect from Nolan.

Transcendence

And finally we have Nolan’s right hand man Wally Pfister’s directorial debut. As the director of photography for many of Nolan’s previous projects, he’s fully stepping behind the lens in this film starring Johnny Depp about a terminally ill scientist that downloads a computer into his mind.

 

Old Charles (to Young Charles) You’re afraid. I remember.

Top 10 Films of 2013

Another year has gone by, and what a year of movies it was. A lot of franchise movies and big blockbuster hits in the summer, but also some niches films that really shone. Here’s my top 10 picks of the movies of 2013.

10. Fast and the Furious 6

The latest instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise is my number 10 pick; it’s fast-paced, action-packed, but is also personal and family orientated with the reintroduction of Michelle Rodriguez’s character. The ending left the movie series in a fantastic place, still riding high at box offices, and bringing in Jason Statham as the next villain. However, due to the tragic and untimely death of Paul Walker fans have to wait a little longer for Fast 7 and this will remain Walker’s last completed movie for the franchise.

9. Prisoners

Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this crime drama which sees the kidnapping of two children on a Thanksgiving weekend. This is a brilliant psychological drama in which Jackman’s character Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands kidnapping and torturing a man whom he believes is involved in the kidnappings. The film presents a man who blurs the lines of what is right and what is wrong, and the audience is forced to question the moral correctness of what is happening. A tense and gripping drama.

8. Much Ado About Nothing

So during post production of Marvel’s big comic book movie collaboration Avengers Assemble, what does Joss Whedon do? Oh he shoots a black and white movie in his own home helped by his alumni cast members from his shows. After a year, it finally made it to selected theatres and it was such a treat – Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedict were a great match for each other, and it was lovely to see that chemistry resurrect itself from the days of Angel. The black and white look of the film gives the film an edge and just makes it all the more beautiful. Long may the genius of Joss Whedon live.

7. Frozen

The only animated movie on this list, it sneaked in with its December release, but this was such a joyous and fun-filled Disney film I couldn’t leave it off. It centres around two sisters, who have been living mostly separate lives despite living and growing up together. Elsa (Idina Menzel) has magical powers and through her parents well-meant but certainly wrong advice she locks herself away from her younger sister Anna. When Elsa unleashes a winter on her kingdom, it is up to her sister to save her. It’s a truly delightful film, with a brilliant soundtrack including the stand out ‘Let It Go’ sung by Menzel and a twist that will certainly shock you (heck it did for me!)

6. Thor 2: The Dark World

Marvel’s second film in its Phase 2 plan, the sequel for its Asgardian God Thor reunites Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Marvel’s secret weapon Tom Hiddleston in a film that is certainly better than its first outing. The brotherly banter between Thor and Loki is one of the high points of the film, with Hemsworth and Hiddleston’s chemistry shining through.

5. Gravity

The Oscar nominated film took the box office by storm at the back end of last year. This 90 minute thrill ride was both visually beautiful and thematically, exploring the notions of life, death and also rebirth. It fully deserves the attention its getting and is so worth a watch.

4. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The middle film in the Hobbit trilogy helmed again by Peter Jackson is action-packed, adventurous and flows a lot better than the first outing. I was never bored during this film, something that I felt at times during the first Hobbit film. Martin Freeman again flourishes as Bilbo, and with the addition of Evangeline Lily, Luke Evans and the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas the film takes off and becomes a blockbuster of a movie.

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness

The much awaited sequel to JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek found its way into cinemas last May and what a treat it ended up being – like many things Abrams does it was shrouded in secrecy, but that didn’t stop fans speculating about villain Benedict Cumberbatch’s role in the movie (if you want to find out whether he is in fact Khan, go check out the movie). It was an adrenaline ride and definitely one of the early hits of the summer.

2. Iron Man 3

The third (and possibly final) stand alone Iron Man film probably saved the best until last, with more laughs, but also more humanity and anguish for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark who spends much of this film still dealing with the aftermath of the battle of New York from Avengers Assemble. Iron Man 3 kicked off Marvel’s Phase 2 campaign and was a banker in terms of money, but a risk with Shane Black stepping in to direct. However, it took off like a rocket, and the ending felt like a nice closed chapter point for the character.

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After looking at everything I’d seen that had came out in 2013, the second instalment of The Hunger Games, clinched everything; it was a blockbuster movie that had blockbuster performances, a fantastic pace, and a disquieting theme.  When I walked out the cinema I wanted to turn around and watch it all again (which I did a week later). Even though it does verge on the over-running borders, the action and the tension is ramped up through every scene and all the elements come together to make this my number 1 film of last year.

 

Peeta: You have to live. For them.

Katniss: What about you?

Peeta: Nobody needs me.

Katniss: I do. I need you.

Thor 2: The Dark World

The next installment in Marvel’s Phase Two plan was released back in November and stormed its way to the top of the box office. Chris Hemsworth was back as the God of Thunder in Thor 2: The Dark World and it didn’t disappoint.

Alan Taylor takes over directors duties from Kenneth Branagh as Thor and the Asgardians try and make peace across the 9 realms. Thor (Hemsworth) is leading the charge but all the while pining for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is also missing the God, but finding her own mission after discovering an anomaly in central London. Hoping it could lead her to Thor she investigates but absorbs an unknown energy. Thor returns to Earth when Heimdall (Idris Elba) notices Jane disappearing when she is investigating the anomaly. When Thor brings Jane back to Asgard, they discover the unknown energy is in fact the Aether, a mystical weapon that basically spells trouble for all worlds. It can only be used every 5,000 years and it just so happens, that it’s that time of year. A race that was believed to be extinct called the Dark Elves, led by their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is now searching for Aether, in a bid to turn the universe to darkness.

From the point of Jane coming to Asgard, the action really picks up as Thor must hatch a plan to keep the Aether away from Malekith and to keep Jane safe. Asgard is attacked and in the panic, Thor’s mother Frigga is killed, causing Thor to take drastic action and to seek an alliance with the one person he wishes he could trust – his estranged brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki really has turned into one of Marvel’s greatest weapons –through the three movies he’s appeared in, and even though he’s very much established as a villain, he’s become a firm fan favourite (which has been helped along by Hiddleston’s bundles of real-life charisma). Even though Thor 2 is still very much Chris Hemsworth’s movie. Hiddleston manages to steal every scene he’s in as Loki, getting the funniest moments but also some of the more vulnerable moments. He gives the character so many layers, and the audience never really knows what Loki’s true motives are; each sneer and smirk are calculated moves, yet the charisma also jumps off-screen, leaving also just a hint of regret and guilt that Loki feels. The best moments in the film are when Thor and Loki are together, the brotherly quabbles are quick-witted and well acted by Hemsworth and Hiddleston.

The movie as a whole flows really well, moving from Earth to Asgard, and introducing and re-introducing the characters. It also visually looks fantastic, and sets a much different tone to the first movie:  the funeral for Thor’s mother is particularly beautiful and moving. The rest of the cast also work well, with Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth re-creating their chemistry from the first movie. While a lot of comedic moments are given to Loki, Jane’s companions of Darcy (Kat Dennins) and Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) offer some more funny moments.

There are some downsides, quite a few missed opportunities: Jane finding it easy to readjust to Asgard, and an inference that Sif (Jamie Alexander) has feelings for Thor. However the film as a whole is a fantastic action ride from start to finish and continues Marvel’s steam train of success. And the ending leaves us with some tantalising questions (and that’s even before those post-credit scenes.)

Volstagg: If you even think of betraying him…
Loki: You’ll kill me?! Evidently they’ll be a line. (Thor 2: The Dark World)

Agents of SHIELD 1.6 ‘F.Z.Z.T.’

I’ve been keeping up to date with Agents of SHIELD and have been willing the series to be amazing; in truth, the first few episodes were up and down – there were some flashes of brilliance, some great character development, particularly with Coulson’s story and just why he’s still alive. But there was also something missing, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something just wasn’t clicking. However when I watched episode 6, I felt the series really came into its own.

Revolving around Agent Simmons, the team are investigating the after effects of when a group of people come into contact with a Chitauri helmet. Unfortunately during their investigation, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) becomes infected with the same virus and it’s a race against time to find a cure for her. Now the show is finding its stride, its focusing on developing all of its characters (not just Skye); before this episode, I really enjoyed the double act of Fitz and Simmons, the science geeks that Coulson recruited. The moment where Coulson realises Simmons is infected is a bittersweet moment; Clark Gregg does a great job at showing the disappointment and hurt in his facial expressions and the way he delivers the ‘I’m so sorry Jemma’.

What this episode does so well is finally bringing the team together, and making the audience care for the characters. When watching this episode it finally clicked that that was what I was missing; apart from Coulson these characters, as a group, were lacking chemistry but now we saw them coming together to try and help one of their own with each character getting a moment to shine. The dynamic between Fitz and Simmons is lovely to see –they have a sibling bond, bickering constantly but knowing what the other is thinking, willing to do anything for each other. Skye is integrating into the group and forming a real bond with Simmons, and even Ward is developing and becoming less grumpy.

We also get some really interesting character development for Coulson, helped along by Melinda May. He refers a few times to some medical tests his doctor’s have ordered for him, and he particularly connects to a fire-fighter in his last moments before his death due to the virus from the Chitauri helmet. We find out at the end of the episode that in fact Coulson ordered the tests himself; he feels something is wrong and he confesses that he feels different. The show has brought a different kind of Coulson than we’re used to in the Marvel cinematic universe, and it’s great to see Gregg be able to flesh out the character. It’s interesting that Coulson can feel he is different and in upcoming episodes, I’m sure that angle will be even further established.

With the show now firmly hitting its stride after a few bum notes, and a full 22 episode series on the horizon, I hope that the show continues to develop even more.

 

Melinda May: Whether it was 8 seconds or 40, you died. There’s no way you can go through a trauma like that and not come out of it changed. You know how long it’s taken me to…

Phil Coulson: I know.

Melinda May: The point of these things is to remind us that… There is no going back, there’s only moving forward. You feel different because you *are* different. (Agents of SHIELD, F.Z.Z.T)

Thor

When the time came for Thor 2’s release, I’d realised I’d yet to watch the origin film, so I settled down to watch it on the eve of my trip to the second. My first glimpse of Thor as a character was in Avengers so I was surprised at the arrogant, hot-headed and frankly a danger to others version that was in this film.

Starring Chris Hemsworth as the Asgardian God of Thunder, it lays the foundation story of Thor, devoting the first 30 minutes to his back story, the relationship between Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and his two sons Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and also Thor’s status as a protector for Asgard. As I said above, Thor at the beginning of the film is arrogant, boisterous, tearing around creating havoc, usually because his temper got in the way. Thor almost causes a war to break out with another world and this is where the story really starts. His father banishes him to Earth to teach him a lesson; he meets scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) along with fellow scientist Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy (Kat Dennings).

Once this foursome comes together, it makes for hilarious viewing and this is where Hemsworth comes into his own; he’s comedic and like a fish out of water as he tries to adjust to life on Earth. He delivers the lines with a certain sarky quality and charisma, but still remaining incredibly arrogant about who he is. At times you can see how much he feels defeated about his situation, but the progression of his character to a wise, brave and humble God is brilliant.

As well as the narrative on Earth, back in Asgard, Loki attempts to become King, a position he views as rightfully his. He’s deceptive, slimy but enigmatic and Tom Hiddleston plays him perfectly. He has a gravitas about him and even though there shouldn’t be any likeable qualities to Loki due to his constant betrayals, Hiddleston manages to create a firm fan favourite.

I do enjoy this movie; it’s a great start to Thor’s overall story in the Marvel universe and it has some great elements to it, particularly the role that S.H.I.E.L.D play; Clark Greg gets some much valued screen time with some brilliant gags and we even get a small appearance from Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. The promise of the return to Asgard for Thor 2 is a welcoming one and I for one can’t wait to see how all the characters progress.

Jane: I’ve never met him before
Darcy Until she hit him with a car
Jane: I grazed him with my car and she tasered him
Darcy: Yes I did

Pilots: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 1.1

Earlier this year it was announced that Marvel was branching into real-life TV as it announced a S.H.I.E.L.D focused program, headed up by none other than fan favourite Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson). Of course for fans of Marvel, they’ll know that Coulson dies during Avengers Assemble, eventually inspiring the Avengers to defeat Loki and unite as a team. It’s probably been one of the most anticipated pilots from this year, and its arrival signals the return of a Joss Whedon show back on our screen. So, did it live up to the hype and just how does Coulson live?

The answer to both is both yes and no. The show is solid enough and shows great promise, introducing us to the world of S.H.I.E.L.D on a day-to-day running. Coulson himself appears around 10 minutes in, emerging from a dark corner in a quite humorous moment. It’s revealed that he died for around 8 seconds, and that Fury lied to the Avengers to inspire them, and that he’s been sunning himself in Tahiti, waiting to get back to work. Is that all true however – no. With one short exchange between Dr. Streiten (guest starring Whedon alumni Ron Glass) and Agent Hill (Colbie Smoulders guest starred in the pilot episode before her filming commitments on How I Met Your Mother) the speculation starts as to exactly what happened; my money at the minute is on robot or clone.

This episode also introduces us to the rest of the team that Coulson puts together through the episode. We have Agent Grant Ward, newly promoted to level 7 just for Coulson’s team; he’s intelligent, great in combat and he seems to have chemistry with Coulson’s newest recruit Skye, a renegade he picks up off the street, who has been trying to track down heroes. She’s a computer hacker, and actress Chloe Bennet carries Whedon’s comedy wit well. Duo Fitz and Simmons are the scientific geeks and even though we didn’t see much of them, they seem to bounce of each other like battling siblings. Melinda May, is the most interesting character for me; she gets recruited as she’s behind a desk doing paperwork, but Ward acts as if he’s met a celebrity when he’s introduced to her. She certainly can kick butt, but just why is she so reluctant to get back into the field? With this being the pilot, none of the characters are particularly fleshed out, but everyone seems plucky and interesting, so hopefully their personalities will grow as the episodes carry on.

The ‘hero’ of the week in this opening episode was another Whedon alumnus – J. August Richards who played Gunn in Angel. In order to be more than just ordinary in order to provide more for his son, his character Mike enters into an experiment that sees him develop superhero powers. His speech towards the end of the episode about how they are not super-men in the world totally works as motivation for his character who just wants to provide for his son. It was lovely to see J. August on my TV screens again as well.

Even though the pilot is written by Joss Whedon, the show will run by his brother Jed and Maurissa Tancharoen who were the previous executive producers of Dollhouse. It has the ability to be standalone from the film series, but also give us some good cameos from some of the stars of the film. Hopefully the show in itself will continue to go from strength to strength and this move to the small screen will prove fruitful.

Grant: Okay there are two ways we can do this

Skye: Oh is one of them the easy way?

Grant: No.

Skye: Oh.

Avengers Assemble

This film was the grand conclusion of Marvel’s Phase one plan after successfully building up characters in various stand alone films. It culminated into a geek fantasy some could have only dreamed of; a strong, stellar ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans; firm fan favourites from within the marvel franchise including Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and to put the cherry on top of the cake – the man to orchestrate this Marvel juggernaut, none other than geek God himself Joss Whedon. This film single-handedly turned him from geek genius to household name, because of the far-reach the movies had. As I was re-watching it the other day, I came to the realisation that this film came out just before Kat and I started this blog. So let’s put this awful blunder to rest and get this review on the road!

As I said above this film’s cast list speaks for itself in terms of star power: returning to their characters are RDJ, the two Chris’s (Hemsworth and Evans), Tom Hiddleston as our favourite villainous Asgardian Loki, Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr Selvig Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Fury, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Clark Gregg as Coulson. Joining the ranks for this outing are Mark Ruffalo taking over from Edward Norton’s incarnation as Eric Banner and his giant green alter ego, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Cobie Smoulders as Agent Hill. And each certainly gets their moment in the spotlight, with Whedon combining all the elements into a nice big cauldron pot of goodness, often combining his trademark wit alongside big action sequences.

It takes about 20 minutes or so for the film to really kick into high gear – after the initial pre-titles sequence, we then take a round trip across all our Avengers, seeing them initially recruited and generally introducing them into the plot. Don’t get me wrong it’s all enjoyable but once this is out of the way, the film really finds its stride. Everything from the Helicarrier to Loki’s baiting of the Avengers, which further causes witty in-fighting amongst our heroes which is downright hilarious (“no hard feelings point break, you got a mean swing.”) However the catalyst for bringing this divided group together is the death of one of their own; Agent Coulson, sporting last year’s must have item – Loki’s spear. The death was a hard-hitting one, both on-screen and off as fans had taken the character of Coulson to their hearts after he was created especially for the screen. Of course now, Coulson lives in the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, set to premiere on US in September but that’s beside the point.  The event unites our Avengers and they set off to defeat Loki in an all out war on the streets of New York. The action sequences are brilliant, with a lot of special effects crammed in; two particular favourites include Banner’s “I’m always angry” comment and the one long tracking camera shot of each Avenger fighting in the battle, flowing beautifully and ending on possibly one of the most hilarious gags in the film as Hulk punches Thor out of camera shot and sniggers. In the end, even though it sees our heroes standing tall, leaves the team understandably changed forever, with the world also knowing of their existence.

Now that over a year has passed since the film was released, we’ve learned a lot about what Marvel has planned for it’s aptly named ‘Phase two’ plan. It’s already released Iron Man 3, and they have another Thor and Captain America scheduled to be released within the next year. With Avengers 2 scheduled to be released in 2015, we learnt at this year’s comic con that the film will be called ‘Age of Ultron’, slotting another piece of the puzzle into place.

All I know is, Avengers Assemble does not get any older the more times I watch it. The jokes are still funny, the writing and the performances are still fantastically brilliant and I think it may well have been my favourite film of 2012. Shawarma anyone?

Loki: What have I to fear?

Stark: The Avengers. It’s what we call ourselves, sort of like a team – Earth’s mightiest heroes type thing.

Loki (laughs) Yes, I’ve met them

Stark: Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, i’ll give you that one but let’s do a  head count here: Your brother the demi-god; a super soldier, living legend who kinda lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins and you big fella. You’ve managed to piss off every single one of them

 

Iron Man 3 – Joint Review

iron-man-3-official-hd

spoilers

Rachel’s Review….

The inner geek in me could not contain her excitement for Iron Man 3, the official launch of Marvel’s Phase 2 plans which will ultimately lead up to Avengers 2 in 2015. In fact, I decided to book tickets to see the midnight showing of the film in order to be one of the first to see it.

So Iron Man 3 is set after the events of Avengers, and it’s clear what happened in New York has had an effect on our favourite genius billionaire, Tony Stark. He’s suffering from anxiety attacks and PTSD, not sleeping and it’s affecting his relationship with Pepper (who has now fully moved in). Whereas Avengers was on an epic scale, director Shane Black, who takes the reins from Jon Favreau, brings it back being about the man rather than the suit. Iron Man 3 is personal, and shows a much more vulnerable side to Tony Stark – the man, rather than the superhero Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle are back and brought along Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce for the ride. Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin is brilliant – from the trailer, you could smell the villainy perturbing from him and his dulcet tones were enough to bring out goosebumps. In the film, he appeared to be a bigger than thou foe – for around half of the film. This was when the big twist was revealed and Kingsley’s true role was revealed – he plays Trevor from Camden actor who was hired to play the Mandarin. It was in fact a gimmick devised by the true evil bad guy and Ben Kingsley’s role was a more comic one. I must say I loved this twist – it was something you never see coming and Kingsley is fantastic as the bumbling Trevor.

Robert Downey Jr. is as great as ever, and really does bring Tony Stark to a more vulnerable and emotional place. His and Gwyneth Paltrow’s chemistry is great to watch as well. Paltrow’s Pepper Potts also gets a lot more to do in this movie (she even gets to put on the Iron Man suit) and she does it really well. The set pieces are great, particularly the attack on the house. The comedic flair of the script is certainly a high point of this film – the one-liners are delivered with brilliant and are certainly on a par with Avengers..

The ending of the movie and the end credits felt very much like a bookmark and a chapter being closed. The removal of the shard around his heart and the destruction of all the Iron Man suits feels like an ending. I left the cinema with the feeling of completion and settled with the thought that if they do not do another stand alone Iron Man film then this would be a very fitting ending to the series.

However, at the very end after the end credit scene (which I’ll get to in a second) it did say – “Tony Stark will return.” In what capacity, we’re still not sure and at this point we’re not even sure if Tony Stark will be in the form of Robert Downey Jr. as his contract has ended with Marvel. In recent interviews he has said he would probably be back for Avengers 2, but rumour has it contract negotiations for the film have become heated, with the main cast asking for more money.

The time came for the infamous end credits scene – myself and at least half the cinema stayed until the bitter end to watch and wait. I’m not sure what I expected, but I liked it – It was simple, light-hearted and featured Mark Ruffalo in a cameo. The scene capitalised on their banter and bromance that they developed in Avengers and even though it didn’t give anything away about what may be planned for Avengers 2, it still was a great little extra moment.

It felt like a lot was packed into this film and the storyline but it worked and it flowed well. I think like Kat I fell in love with Robert Downey Jr. just a little bit more and it was a fantastic start to Marvel’s phase 2 campaign.

“Your cold? I know I can tell. It’s because we’re connected” (Tony Stark, Iron Man 3)

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Kat’s Review…..

The anticipation of the third installment of the Iron Man franchise was killing me, seeing the trailer alone got my adrenaline pumping, and so by the time I was sat in my seat I could hardly contain the squeals coming out of my mouth.

The film opens with a flashback and I won’t lie, my heart sank. Flashbacks, as we’ve seen before tend to be a sign that something is going wrong in the ideas office (*cough* X-men). This immediately worried me but just as quickly as we went back to 1999, we were back to present day and my anxiety subsided.

The film itself is packed full of stunning visual effects, a villain who makes your squirm and one liners which have you creasing nonstop.

I must mention the one liners first as I can’t wait to talk about them. FANTASTIC. So many, so subtle, so funny. Drew Pearce and Shane Black have done such a good job on the screen play, RDJ’s lines are hilarious, and alongside the quick wit of Paltrow, they have the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. (Later I will compose a list of my favorite).

What is most striking about this film is that we see a new side to Tony Stark, he is weak and vulnerable; very unlike the always confident and cocky rich guy we know from the previous two episodes. We also see him without his suit to hide behind for the vast majority of the film, again something we have not seen before. The film is an insight into Stark’s mind, his intelligence and his struggles; currently suffering from panic attacks and PTSD you are made to really feel for the character. We see him interact with a range of different characters, including a young boy – who it’s obvious he sees a lot of himself in; once again opening a once closed door to the personal side of Tony Stark. The film offers us a new light on a character we all already love.

Tony’s girlfriend, the innocent Pepper Potts (Gwyenth Paltrow) plays a much bigger role this time round and I couldn’t help falling in love with their finally established relationship. Paltrow and Downey’s on screen chemistry is magnificent and I really believed that they were together; their petty arguments over giant stuffed animals were hilariously cute and made me fall for them even more. Unfortunately (as is probably expected), as the only thing Tony cares about, Pepper becomes the latest of Aldrich Killian (IM3’s villain) victims to try and get Tony to work with him and fix the flaws with his Extremis. We see Tony Stark crumble as his house becomes under attack and Pepper’s life is endangered, without a moment’s hesitation, Tony calls his suit and suits up Pepper in order to protect her! Although the comedy value of Pepper stumbling around in the Iron Man suit is quite enjoyable, it does not distract from the fact Tony’s house is falling from the Malibu cliff and his life is quickly flashing before his eyes.

Later in the film we see Pepper being captured by Tony’s antagonist, and this is part of the film which slightly disappointed me. Why did they have to infect Pepper with superhuman abilities? I felt as though Tony didn’t even have a chance to save her. But the worst moment where I actually filled up was seeing Tony make a promise to Pepper that if she let go he would catch her; only to miss her and see her fall into the fiery pit below. RDJ’s acting in this scene is sensational; he channels Tony’s emotions to a T and had the whole audience holding their breath.

Despite the split second of Pepper falling, the moment she hit the flames I remembered she had been infected and would survives the burning heat, this was slightly disappointing, mainly because Pepper’s death would have been such a huge twist, and was suddenly rules out without even having chance to panic that she might not make it.

On top of this, we also see her fight ‘her own battle’ and save Tony’s life which again I felt was a bit weird – I guess I’m just traditional when it comes to the ‘damsel in distress needs to be saved by a superhero’ scenario.

The finale scene of the main film shows both Tony and Pepper being treated for their non-human attributes, Pepper is cured and Tony has his reactor removed as well as destroying all of his Iron Man suits, the question lies – will Iron Man return? Despite a post-credit scene showing Tony pouring his heart out in a shrink like fashion to Bruce Banner in a location I can only assume has something to do with the Avengers, my fear is no, but I really hope I’m wrong.

‘You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.’ (Tony Stark, Iron Man 3)

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The End of an Era….

So it seems this week is shaping up to be a rough one…Today while surfing the World Wide Web I stumbled upon some very disheartening news – rumour has it that Robert Downey Jr will be leaving the Iron Man franchise when he reaches the grand old age of 50.

50?! But he’s already 48! I hear you scream – yes it does seem very young to be throwing in the iron helmet, but let’s face it, if RDJ doesn’t think he can do the role justice do we really want to see him and our beloved Tony Stark suffer? I think not. As much as I love Iron Man and RDJ, as he said in his interview things can’t last forever.

No they can’t – no matter how many sequels we may want some things are better left when in their prime (producers of the Saw franchise TAKE NOTE).

RDJ is a sensational actor but I don’t want to see a half hearted attempt – if he’s ready to leave I’ll stand and give the ovation he deserves.

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I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. – Tony Stark, Iron Man 3.